May 20, 2012


Been remiss in my posts recently. A lot of stuff happening, but all at once it's summer! We had 27C yesterday and up to 36C today. We took advantage of it straight away and spent both days outdoors. The winters in Montreal can be far too long.

Work has been flowing. Still busy, but I submitted a paper to a conference in Africa. Let's see if I make it in. The work warranted a trip by car to the US to interview the founder of the NGO I'm using as a case. Hubby's passport came in just in time, 2 days before the trip. So we went as a family unit, rather than me having to do an 8 hour drive all by myself, and decided to overnight and also catch an old old friend on the way back.

It was a good plan except that toddler boy got sick. And I mean really sick. High fever, up to 39.8C. He never really gets that kind of fever so of course I was worried. He still tried to smile and seemed energetic enough in between the long naps, but the fever wouldn't come down. By evening it had spiked and then he also threw up. At which point we threw in the towel as non-panicky parents and headed straight to the nearest ER. Not necessarily where you want to be handing over your credit card while in the US, but really, we had no choice. Of course, the minute we walked through the door, our toddler decided that the ER was an exciting new place to explore even though (for him) it was in the middle of the night. He perked up, smiled at the nurses, charmed the other patients, and his fever dropped. No more throwing up. They diagnosed him with croup (we already knew that he had that), and gave a fever-reducer plus a prescription for steroids for the croup. We didn't bother getting the latter filled - he gets it all the time and the doctor said it was mild. But it might have been what caused him to vomit since his coughing can get quite violent.

We made it back the following day - toddler-boy was still recovering but acting like a true champ. I, on the other hand, had barely slept (since we shared a bed and I relegated hubby to the kiddy cot in the hotel room). Since then, kiddo fully recovered, only to catch a cold shortly after (more croup, naturally). This time, he managed to infect me too, and I'm suffering a major head cold.

Still, I can't complain since the weather really is so gorgeous and it's a long holiday weekend. Tomorrow I'm off, and will be cleaning the house for oma's arrival on Wednesday. Not much work on the horizon, I imagine!

Meanwhile, toddler boy continues to pick up more signs. This week, he nailed 'cat' and 'bath'. He also understood the sign for 'shoe' and copied it. Add that to his favorite 'hat', his ex-favorite 'again', and the other ones he knows: 'milk', 'sleep', 'music', 'dog', 'all done', 'up', 'out', and 'no no no', and 'drink', we're now coming close to 15 signs. And very occasionally, he'll say something really clearly like "Hello Velcro" (to the dog). Most of the time it's just nonsense lingo but semi-accurate signing. Not bad to have 15 signs by 15 months. 

My favorite, though, is when he decides to wear his hat (or helmet, which is also hat to him), and checks himself out in the mirror. For a while now, I've noticed that he likes to look at himself in the mirror. I assumed he couldn't yet know that it was him, even though he'd say hi to himself (adding his own name), but I'm now beginning to suspect he knew as early as 13-14 months. That seems young, to me, but then, he's also taught himself to whistle, and he can kick a ball while on the run. My little fella.

Mar 24, 2012

A week of spring

The weather this past week has been phenomenal. Mostly I've loved it. I started running again (yay!), and achieved a 3.6km with baby chariot on Monday, a 4km run with chariot on Wednesday and a 5km run (solo) on Thursday. I think I even picked up a bit of a tan. The snow has melted, but the canal still has plenty of ice left in it, which is astounding considering it was 27C on Thursday.

Climate change is happening, it would seem. The weekend is appropriately cold again at 2C this morning, so it's been a bizarre adjustments of windows open/closed, radiator on/off, spring clothes out/winter coats back on, etc. No one seems to know how to dress these days.

Work was hectic this week. Two visiting speakers yesterday, talking at precisely the same time. I had to pick one, but had lunch with one and dinner with the other. For the rest, some internal clashes (more appropriately, stupidity by one idiot) has generated a whole bunch of extra work for me. Oh well, such is life. It's rolling off me like water off a duck's back.

When I'm at home, toddler-boy demands total attention. He's adorably cute. Loves to laugh, dance, clap and other things. He's finally clicked on the sign language and keeps pointing at stuff to get the "words". I'm gonna have to beef up my own skills beyond "dog", "again", "cat" and "sleep", it seems.

Mar 18, 2012

Hit and miss

The sleep is hit-and-miss. I still regularly wake up at least once, sometimes twice, a night to either give toddler-boy his pacifier, or spend a good amount of time rocking him. The latter seriously disrupts my sleep pattern and hence the reason for a 3 a.m. post. Little one woke up at 1, then again at 1.30, and then 1.45. I finally decided to do the rocking for a little longer and he seems to have settled back in. But of course, by this time, I'm now wide awake.

Lots on my mind, maybe, and that could be the reason for failing to fall back asleep. So much for planning a nice long sleep in and a general sleep catch-up.

Weather should FINALLY be warmer tomorrow. Here's hoping that spring is around the corner.

Happy St Paddy's and all.

Mar 4, 2012

About sleep

Get all your anti-jinxing devices handy. I'm about to talk about toddler-boy's sleep. Toddler is now the appropriate word for him, because he's really changed over the last month and a half. He's become incredibly self-sufficient, inquisitive, and even mindful. 

As part of growing up, his sleep patterns have changed. At first, the biggest change came during the day. Instead of his usual thirty-minute naps 3-4 times a day, he began to shift down to two naps - very suddenly. Of course, two thirty-minute naps were nowhere near enough to do his sleep needs justice, and I started to notice he was sneaking in an hour here, an hour there. And, even more so, when he would wake, he seemed rather sleepy and with a little encouragement, might even continue his nap. The nanny also noticed this, and both of us encouraged him to take longer naps. In the last week or so, this has meant successful 2+ hour naps on a daily basis, and a similar 1+ hour nap in the afternoon.

Soon after this daytime shift, I started to notice a change in toddler-boy's nighttime too. He slept a 7 hour stretch the night before his first birthday. Of course, I only got about 4 hours because we were up decorating the house for him and getting all his presents ready. Still, I was super-excited but not holding up my hopes because he'd done longish (5 hour) stretches before, for a day or two, and then reverted right back to his usual "wake every 3 hours" routine. Even if I was no longer feeding him at night - in fact, weaning him from night feeds temporarily made him wake up more often, because he'd wake, I'd rock him back to sleep, and 15-30 minutes later he'd realise he'd not been fed and wake again. 

And although 5 hours of continual night time sleep is considered "through the night" by lovely authors such as Pinki McKay (Sleeping Like a Baby), it's still not fantastic from a parent's point of view. But I wanted to stick to my guns. The cry-it-out method was not about to happen in our house. 

I was amazed to find that toddler-boy repeated the 7-hour stretch again the following night, then woke frequently for 2 nights, followed by another 7-hour stretch the next night. In the preceding few weeks, he'd had a bad cough and cold, with some fever - his sleep pattern was awful. So I was very very glad for this change. At this point, he went to the doctor for his 12 month check-up and three vaccinations later, he promptly went back to awful sleeping patterns for about 4-5 days. But then, to my big surprise, the 7-hour stretch turned into an 8-hour one. And that was counting from the 10.30pm "dream-feed", not from his 8pm bedtime. 

Happily, he's been doing that for about a week now. Once in a while, there is still a possibility of a more wakeful night. I notice that when hubby is or has been out of town, toddler-boy's sleep seems a bit off. But all in all, it's a vast improvement.

The best part is that I never engaged in any kind of sleep training, in the tradition sense of "cry-it-out". I was still nursing him to sleep and then putting him in his bed.

Now, it seems another change is happening. He no longer falls asleep when I nurse him in the evening time. He decides to nurse till he's full, then looks for his pacifier. As usual, he completely ignores or even pushes his "snuggy" away (this is supposed to be his attachment object - obviously THAT never worked but I continue to put it in his bed with him, to hold an extra pacifier so that toddler-boy knows where to find it). He then proceeds to wriggle around the bed some, changing his sleep position about ten times and not falling asleep. I then carry him to his bed, still half awake, and lay him in it. I stay with him for a minute or so. I try not to touch him too much, although sometimes he insists by reaching out for me, either waving his hands in the air in search of my face/hair, or poking them through the spokes to feel for my legs. With a half-broken heart, I disengage when I think he'll be ok, and calmly leave his room. I tend to rumble around in the bathroom for a few minutes, waiting to see if he peeps. Then, I go to the living room. 

Invariably, he seems to fall asleep by himself. Occasionally, he will call out about 30 minutes later, either stood up in his bed or not: I give him a pet, or rock him a bit, and put him down again. So far, it's worked well.

It feels weird to do this, the walking out when he's still awake. I know that many experts say a baby is supposed to be able to put themselves to sleep; it's helpful somehow (I can't recall why). I also can't recall if Pinki's book recommends this.

I do worry about one thing -- perhaps he's what's considered an "easy" baby, and by not calling out, he's "pleasing" me, but still hurting inside. I hope that's not the case. The fact that he used to scream his head off in protest if I even stepped away for a moment makes me think he doesn't fall into that category. But, I suppose one never knows. Perhaps this newfound self-confidence is simply harder on me than it is on him. I'm his mom, after all.

Feb 25, 2012

No coffee, no milk, no bread

I'm trying to make it through the first two hours of the morning with no coffee, milk, or bread. This isn't by choice. It's simply a fact. Life, with a one year old, gets busy. Add in a snow storm and you suddenly lose any desire to pass by the market on your way home.

It's really work that's busy and not baby-boy. Stupidities, all of it, but that comes with work. I've decided that baby-boy should now officially be toddler-boy. He's been toddling for over 2 months, but his baby-ish actions were still enough for me to label him 'baby'. But since his birthday last Saturday, it seems like he's suddenly all grown up. He even managed to sleep 6.5 to 7 hours in a row three times this week!

This exciting new pattern was interrupted for a few days by vaccinations and (I presume) their side effects. Since toddler-boy didn't have a fever, I didn't drug him unnecessarily, but something was going on in his body for sure: even his diapers smelled plain wrong.

It's a lot of fun watching him these days. He's completely comfortable by now with walking, and his exploratory phase has been notched up a gear. Now, he can open drawers without pinching his fingers. And, he can take out all their contents, drop something else in, and then happily move on to the next drawer (leaving it open). This means that I find my phone in the magazine rack, toy bricks in the CD drawer, recycling amongst the pots. Every day a new surprise.

We've baby-gated our kitchen, finally. Not that any dangerous things are at toddler level, but he started to rip bits of cling film off the role and carrying empty wine bottles around with him. And I think he's in league with the dog: both of them adore the Feline Pine cat litter. So we decided the kitchen is off limits. Toddler-boy objects for a few seconds when I leave him locked behind the gate while I cook and clean, but he soon finds something else that's almost equally as exciting as being with mommy. 

Feb 7, 2012

Prepping for D-day

D-day. That would be next Monday, February 13th. The day I officially start back at work. Of course, it was supposed to be the 20th, since I only "stopped" working on the day I gave birth to my baby-boy (the 18th). But the red-tape department at the university and the Government of Quebec didn't quite see it that way. As far as they were concerned my original letter for maternity leave indicated I was due on the 15th, so I'd be off from the 14th. Oh well. What's a week?

In preparation for D-day, I've been spending more and more time away from home. Ostensibly to let baby-boy bond with the nanny, in ever increasin chunks of time, so that he's ready for a "full day" by next week. I haven't quite managed to convince myself to spend that time in my office (heaven forbid anyone confuses my back-to-work date), so I mostly hang out in a local coffee shop, and when I feel I've overstayed my welcome there, I switch to Starbucks.

Today, though I'm at the office. For various things. And while sitting here, several things occur to me:

(1) How lonely sitting in the office can be. Music and chocolate, and my single-portion French press not withstanding. Most of my time is spent at the computer. Meetings are full and far between. And I don't feel like "wasting" my short days on lunch dates, as my priority is to get back home to baby boy. So yes, it's a lonely job, the academic life. I have stacked up on chewing gum to avoid overconsumption of sweets (out of boredom).

(2) How little things can become big aggravators just because of red-tape. This week I had to re-apply for my work permit since our PR status won't come through in time. I had to redo the application form, all the photocopies, letters of my contribution, CV, etc, etc. I feel like I do this kind of thing about 5 times a year for various purposes both within and outside of the university. It seems like a collosal waste of time. Even more infuriating is the whole IT situation. My laptop's docking station has copped it. That means I have to plug everything in every morning (my large monitor, my printer, my LAN cable, my wireless mouse, my power). It's not a huge deal, but it's a pain. More annoying is the fact that what I really want to do is pop by the Apple store and buy an iMac from my university funding. But I have to go through the IT department to do so. Spec the thing. They'll get it wrong. It'll have to go back. The process will take 4 weeks longer than the 1 day it should take. They'll try to convince me to get a desktop. They'll stall another week on actually giving me the computer. And then they'll charge me 12% for their "service" which will get taken from my hard-earned research fund.

(3) How hard it can be to motivate myself to get out of this room. Now, in fairness, I did manage to buy a gym membership on my way in today. And I intend to use it. But not the gym's showers. So my excuse will be to do it at the end of the day, throw on my jacket and head home. Of course, that means I have to think carefully about what I eat for lunch so I have enough energy to run (to meet my 1,000 mile goal). Oh, I miss my running buddy from Michigan!!

(4) How desperately I need to update my iTunes and Nano for office music.

First-world problems, as a friend of mine would say. And so they are. Mostly, I think I just need to find a way to hit my "zone" again. What might help is that I'm attending another writing-group meeting tonight. Hoping for a fun time!

Jan 10, 2012

So the challenges are proving to be ... a challenge!

Good intentions. Bad performance. No other way to describe it. On all fronts. 

My three new years resolutions are left miserably in the dust for the first part of January. Well, actually, the first one is working out. We did find a nanny and she' been with us five days now on trial. Things are looking good. I don't want to jinx myself, but baby-boy seems to be taking to her and that's one of the key things in all of this. We're going slow and steady, hoping to make for a smooth transition from mommy-at-home to mommy-at-work for 6 hours a day. Today, I was able to take hold a conference call in another room for 45 minutes without any hitches. So, keep your fingers crossed.

As for the rest of the resolutions: I miserably, miserably failed to attend the writing group. Totally my own gaffe. It was on one calendar but that one no longer talks to my phone. I hadn't put it on our main calendar in the kitchen either. And in general, I'm a ditz when it comes to remembering such stuff. My friend even sent a reminder email, 2 hours in advance, but I wasn't home so never saw it. So I have a lot of apologizing to do, and I hope to make the next one (though I already noticed that hubby will be traveling for business then, so who knows?).

The exercise challenge has also yet to get started: 1000 miles in 2012 has so far logged 0 miles. But I hope to start in a few weeks' time when I'm able to leave the house for a bit here and there. In the meantime, the only "running" I'm doing is running around the house with baby boy, running to clean and tidy, running to do groceries, running to fit in conference calls and meetings, and crashing in the evening when I'm just too tired to do any more. 

Then there is the unspoken resolution of actually getting some work done and writing papers. I missed the "big conference" deadline - today ... and had to write an apology to my co-author which left me feeling not a small bit embarrassed. I'm aiming for another conference towards the end of the month and started on it today. So far I have 3 sentences before the baby demanded my attention. But at least the conference call was for another paper (revision and resubmission), so I can feel good about that. Now, I just have to do the work.

At least I managed to write a blog. That's gotta count somewhat towards the writing challenge, right? And, I managed to sign up and add a widget for the 1000 mile exercise challenge, so that has to give me a half star at least, right? Right?

Jan 2, 2012

New year, new resolutions?

Busy times, the holiday, especially with a little one. We had fun, so did he. We're all much more relaxed for having had some time off. I even ignored my desire to submit a paper to a big conference (due Jan 10). Not sure if I will make it at this point, if not, oh well, c'est la vie. I'm on mat leave after all, and soon going back to work. So I'm taking advantage of these last 6 weeks!

What's on the plate for the new year? I'm not one to make resolutions, generally, but this time I've used the new year as a motivator since it's too easy to get absorbed completely by baby-boy's needs and ignoring my own. I'm listing my ideas here so that I don't forget them and so that I can be held accountable:

1. Find a nanny.

2. Join a writing group.

3. Renew my exercise programme. 

Number one is in the works. It's our most urgent issue right now. Yes, we still have blinds to hang and pictures to sort out, and what not. But I can't very well go back to work without having someone to care for our little one. We began the process about 10 days ago and have met 2 nannies so far, with a third tomorrow. The first nanny is the most promising and who knows, we might be lucky enough to finish our search quickly. It feels kind of 'scary' that we might hire the first person we interviewed, but we did meet someone when baby-boy was around five months old, and both agreed that was someone we definitely did NOT want taking care of our kid. So we have some kind of benchmark to compare to. I checked out the first nanny's references and they were all solid. Next step is to get her to send through a police check, if we both agree that tomorrow's nanny isn't as good as this one. 

I'm also in the process of working on number two. A friend of mine has set up a local writing group as part of a new organization she created. I'm hoping to revive my ancient fantasy novel that is gathering dust on a computer or USB drive somewhere. Meeting people every 2 weeks should stimulate me to do some writing in the evenings when baby-boy is asleep. I'm excited about it, since it's been a very long time since I allowed myself to work on this (I've prioritized writing for work). This time, I'm going to work during the nanny hours, and write for pleasure in the evening. It will have to be a more measured approach, of about an hour a day, but that might be just what the doctor ordered.

I have not yet started the exercise goal. Since I'm still breast feeding, I am continuing to eat like a horse. However, my habits are not that great, and alongside the exercise, I'm hoping that the nanny will be able to prepare salads/vegetables every day that I can add to my protein and a measured approach to carbs. My plans for exercise are two-fold. I am going to join the gym again at my university, and during nanny-hours, I will be able to dedicate 45 minutes to a daily gym visit. This is less time than I usually have spent in the gym in the past, but if I go every day instead of just 2 or 3 times a week, it should work out. At the same time, I'm considering joining a friend's and fellow bloggers 1000 mile challenge. This means you run 1000 miles during 2012 (or burn the equivalent number of calories in another form of exercise). It sounds intimidating but again, it may be just the kind of kick up the butt that I need. I could easily alternate my gym routines between weights (my preferred workout method) and running (my best weight loss and fitness approach).

So there it is 2012. And I've not even talked about work goals. Those, I'll just post on my pin board in the office!